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Pakistan’s “Swing State”



South Punjab has become a “swing state” in Pakistan. Fortunes and misfortunes alike can be swayed by where the region chooses to place allegiance.

Malik Asim Dogar Profile Malik Asim Dogar

In the 2018 general elections, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was able to form a government in the center and in Punjab when South Punjab decided to swing its way.

One of the major reasons for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N)’s failure in the region was the absolute abandonment of the area by Shehbaz Sharif’s administration. As compared to the development work that was done in Lahore and Central Punjab, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur were sidelined.

And so, a South Punjab faction was created just a month before the general elections out of the electables that belong to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and PML-N. Some of the names now waxing eloquent about the injustices wrought in the region had earlier been elected on Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) tickets too. Most of the men in the faction were feudals, gaddi-nasheens or land holders. Under the right circumstances, these politicians have been most beneficial for whomever Lady Luck is going to bestow her smile upon.

As per our constitution, Punjab is one province. But that is where the legalities end. In the minds of the people of Punjab, the south is a distinctly separate region. South Punjabis would be delighted if they get recognized as Seraiki Province. But at this point they will make do with just a title carrying just their geographic location, just as long as their dream is fulfilled.

The PTI infamously promised that within the first 100 days of the party taking charge in the capital, it will begin proceedings to carve out a South Punjab province. For one year, the issue remained dead. Once the media started discussing the issue, a South Punjab Secretariat was created. It remained toothless with Lahore still taking all the decisions pertaining to the southern districts.  An administrative attempt not backed up by political will was bound to crash. Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, described with much fanfare as a man who belonged to a backward area, decided that he did not want to be the administrator of just Central Punjab. And so the notification became a mere piece of paper.

Buzdar has said that South Punjab remains high on his agenda. He asks that no heed be paid to the propaganda of naysayers. One is tempted to ask him if the notification was suspended on the advice of the naysayers. Whatever the political reasons behind, the fact remains that the South Punjab issue is going to be raised once more. Once again, the main characters will be the politicians who have spent time in the stables of all political parties. South Punjab itself will remain woefully underdeveloped and ignored. Relentless poverty forces people to leave their homes and make their way towards bigger cities. Universities churn out graduates who will get no jobs. Vocational institutes and few and far in between. Industrial infrastructure is absent. The few agricultural reforms that were adopted will be dropped after the suspension of the notification.

PTI will have to pay heavy political costs for taking this decision. Delusioned by PPP and PML-N, the voters of South Punjab had looked towards PTI in the hope of getting their own province and equal development opportunities. After 31 months in power, Imran Khan has been unable to fulfill even a single electoral promise made to the entire country. Far from getting rid of IMF, we are now about to hand over State Bank of Pakistan to them. Instead of recovering looted wealth from former rulers, the PTI went into seat adjustment with them in the senate elections. If all failures are mentioned here, we may run out of space.

PPP has been trying to return to its past strength in Punjab since eight years now. It tried to bring PML-Q into power with the help of PML-N. But for Nawaz Sharif’s party, sharing government with a competent Chief Minister was a worse option than sitting in the opposition with a very incompetent one.

But now, PPP must be hoping anew for elusive success in the province. It has started reforming party structure and reconnecting with the central players of the area. It is true that the people of South Punjab have a soft corner for PPP. Meanwhile, powerful circles are once again ready to use the area as a swing state. Political heavyweights may be handed over to PPP if PDM is truly finished.

If that does happen, then PPP’s road to Islamabad and Lahore may well be obstacle free.

The writer tweets at @asimdogar76

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Sale of PSO’s petroleum products falls by 28%

The sale of PSO's petroleum products was recorded as 1.22 million tons in May last year which decreased to 0.60 million tons in May this year.

Published by Noor Fatima



Islamabad: Sales of Pakistan State Oil’s (PSO) petroleum products have been recorded a decline of 28 percent on annual basis in the first 11 months of the current fiscal year.

According to Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) and industry data, PSO's sales of petroleum products were recorded at 7.66 million tons during the July-May period, which is 28% less than the same period of the previous fiscal year.

In the same period of the previous financial year, the sale of PSO's petroleum products was recorded at 10.54 million tons. In May 2023, PSO recorded sales of 0.60 million tons of petroleum products, which is 4% higher than in April.

PSO's sales of 0.58 million tons of petroleum products were recorded in April. In May, the sale of petroleum products recorded a decrease of 51% on annual basis.

The sale of PSO's petroleum products was recorded as 1.22 million tons in May last year which decreased to 0.60 million tons in May this year.

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May 14 verdict becomes history, not possible to implement: CJP

The hearing of the case was adjourned till June 13.

Published by Noor Fatima



Islamabad: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Atta Bandial Wednesday said the implementation of May 14 verdict to conduct elections in 90 days is not possible, however this decision has become history.

According to details, a three-member bench headed by CJP comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar is hearing the cases of petitions filed against the Supreme Court Review of Orders and Judgments Act and the Punjab Election Review case simultaneously in the Supreme Court.

The petitioners have appealed in the Supreme Court to declare the Review of Orders and Judgments Act invalid.

At the beginning of the hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan said we have received some appeals regarding the issue of Review Act that has to be seen at a stage.

Attorney General has been notified, after the notice on the Review Act, the bench under the Election Case Act will hear the case.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar said: “Supreme Court Review Act is against the Constitution, the same issue was raised in the Practice and Procedure Act”.

Supreme Court had placed a ban on the Practice and Procedure Act. The injunction of the Act also applies to the Review Act, he stated.

 Ali Zafar added that Supreme Court can hear Punjab Election Revision case, however the Supreme Court Revive Act is not applicable to this Court because of the injunction.

The court can stay the decision on the Revision Act till the decision of the Review Act. Arguments in the election review case are almost over, now the case should be completed, said barrister.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar said: “If the Review Act is implemented, then the lawyer of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will have to give arguments again in the larger bench”.

He stated how the court can hear the Punjab election case if Supreme Court Review Act has been implemented? Also tell us how the Supreme Court Review Act is not applicable in the Punjab election review case.

CJP Bandial added that everyone wants the decision of Punjab election review case, the lawyer of ECP argued that they have wider powers, appeals also have some limits.

He added that Punjab election review case is not new, it has been discussed earlier. The arguments of the Election Commission's counsel were on expanding the scope of the review, if the election review case goes to a larger bench, then ECP's counsel can start arguments from there.

Umar Atta Bandial said: “The court decision will remain in history that elections are mandatory in 90 days, it was to be seen whether 90 days can be extended for elections”.

He questioned if the conditions after the events of May 9 are as per listed in the constitution for postponement of elections? Everything is not possible by violence and force.

PTI’s Barrister Ali Zafar requested to decide the Punjab election review case, stating that whatever the circumstances or arguments are, the court should decide the Punjab election review case soon.

“On the night of May 15, I felt that the constitution had died. On the day, the fixed term of the elections and the decision of the Supreme Court were insulted,” said Barrister Ali.

He added: “Every day I feel that the constitution has been killed. Whatever arguments the Election Commission's lawyers give, it will not change the reality”.

Barrister Ali Zafar said that when the review act was passed, it was asked in the senate that how are you making laws that contradict the constitution? This review act was passed by the Senate in 5 minutes and there was no debate there.

The amendments in Article 184-3 are certainly good, but this is possible only through constitutional amendments. Laws related to the independence of the judiciary can only be made through constitutional amendments, said Ali.

Chief Justice asked whether you think the government has given the right to appeal in Article 184-3, which is against the constitution. Barrister Ali Zafar responded: “The points which were not raised in the main case cannot be brought up in revision”.

CJP Umar added that there are good amendments related to Article 184-3 in this law, the only mistake made was calling the revision of Article 184-3 as an appeal. We will ask the Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan why the government made a mistake.

Attorney General replied that the petitioners against the Supreme Court Review Act are in their personal capacity, if Ali Zafar wants to be a party to the case, then file the petition.

Umar asked about some way to save time, stating that the good thing is government and the institutions have decided to follow the law.

“Today the government’s point is not based on mathematics but on the law and facts. We appreciate the good legislations of government, he added.

Bandial inquired the government was protesting at the gates, did the protest mean to obstruct justice? This duty of justice that we are doing is God’s work, to interfere in our work is to interfere with the truth.

Petitioner Zaman Khan Wardag and other petitioner Ghulam Mohiuddin adopted the arguments of Barrister Ali Zafar against the Supreme Court Review of Orders and Judgments Act.

The court issued notice to the parties in the Supreme Court Review of Orders and Judgments Act case.

Court says that the petitions came against the Supreme Court Review of Orders and Judgments Act. According to them, the act to extend the scope of review is illegal, constitutional amendment is necessary to expand the jurisdiction of review. A larger bench has already issued an injunction on the Practice and Procedure Act, fixing the two cases for hearing together on Tuesday.

It has also issued notices to the Attorney General, the party president, the federal government, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in the Supreme Court Review of Orders and Judgments Act case.

The hearing of the case was adjourned till June 13.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan said possible the case will be heard on a daily basis from Tuesday, the Punjab elections case will also be scheduled along with the review case.

Notable earlier on May 29, a gazette notification was issued for the implementation of Supreme Court Review of Orders and Judgments Act, 2023.

Following the new law, revision appeals can be filed within 60 days of decisions under Section 184/3 and it will be heard by a larger bench than the decision-making bench. However, in the past, a review petition was heard by the same bench that passed the judgment.

The scope of revision petition will now be the same as that of an appeal as per new law.

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M&C Saatchi World Services clinches prestigious Gold Effie Award

The fifth Pakistan Effie Awards has been held at the Expo Center in Karachi on 3rd June 2023, organized by the Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS).

Published by Hussnain Bhutta



Karachi: The Effie Awards is a globally recognized symbol of advertising effectiveness, celebrating outstanding campaigns that demonstrate exceptional results and innovation every year. The fifth Pakistan Effie Awards were held at the Expo Center in Karachi on 3rd June 2023, organized by the Pakistan Advertisers Society (PAS).

M&C Saatchi World Services' groundbreaking ad, "Let's Talk - Addressing Pakistan's Brown Bag Syndrome" for FCDO won the prestigious Gold Effie Award in the non-profit category. The campaign is part of the Delivering Accelerated Family Planning in Pakistan (DAFPAK)’s social behaviour communication change component, launched under KhairKhwah, a platform to improve access to family planning services for the most vulnerable in Pakistan and disseminate messages for the common good.

The campaign, under KhairKhwah, aimed to create awareness and initiate meaningful conversations around the pressing issue of population growth in Pakistan. Drawing insights from in-depth research, the campaign sought to challenge societal norms and stimulate constructive dialogue regarding family planning and its impact on the nation's future.

“This achievement is a testament to the collaborative efforts of our talented teams at M&C Saatchi World Services Pakistan and London and the client's unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on society,” said Imran Irshad, CEO, M&C Saatchi World Services Pakistan.

"As we proudly accept our first Effie Award, we remain resolute in our pursuit of future success and continue to make meaningful change through impactful communication.”

The Brown Bag campaign creatively employed multiple touchpoints to engage the target audience, leveraging traditional media, digital platforms, and on-ground activations. With its thought-provoking approach and measurable impact, the campaign has garnered well-deserved attention and acclaim within and beyond the advertising industry.


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